Interested in how to become a pro mountain biker? Then read this interview with Amy Morrison as her journey to becoming a professional enduro mountain biker might surprise you.
Interview with Amy Morrison
Below is a transcript of a video interview with Amy Morrison. As with any spoken interview we have had to add the punctuation and at points alter the wording slightly to ensure it reads properly.
Who are you? What do you do? And how long have you been doing it?
I’m Amy Morrison I’m a professional mountain biker I’ve been racing professionally for five years.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Michigan and then I went to school in South Carolina at Clemson University and then moved around a
little bit and ended up in Auburn, California.
What did you grow up doing? And what other sports did you play?
I started barefooting when I was young with my family I ended up winning nationals and the jump event. Then I was on the U.S. national team for Barefoot worlds and placed third in the jump.
I competed in swimming and diving in high school and I was third in the free and state runner-up in the diving event. I competed in track and field in high school, I ran hurdles, long jump and sprints.
I really got into pole vaulting my junior and senior year I was state champion and set the state record. I went on to pole vault at Clemson University I did that for four years. When I graduated I got a pharmaceutical sales job right out of college.
After about a year of doing that I started getting into mountain biking. So I had started road biking when I graduated college I enjoyed the road biking at my first place that I was positioned in for the job was Denver.
I had always thought that I wanted to live in Florida and water ski and that was like my dream. But then I went to Denver and I was like ‘oh my gosh the mountains are amazing’ and I started road biking.
How did you get into mountain biking?
I had road bike all over and I really wanted to get a mountain bike. But because of the pharmaceutical job they’re moving me every three months so I didn’t have a way to really move that much stuff. So I held off on the mountain bike and then I moved to my final spot in Sacramento where I became permanent.
There was a big mountain bike scene and I just went to a bike shop and bought my first mountain bike. I started pretty much just going out anytime that I could after work. I would just look up on on the internet and just try to find different places to ride.
The first place I rode was called Granite Bay it’s pretty easy sandy not really difficult trails. I would just go out there and ride and they had a mountain bike series out there where they would have races like every other weekend in the winter.
So I just started doing those and I was able to just get better doing those and kind of met people while racing. It grew from there as I am competitive about pretty much everything I do I end up competing.
How did you get into Enduro racing?
There’s a lot of races out there and I started with cross-country which is fairly typical. I think people kind of get into it and they kind of fall into the Crest cross-country category, so I raced a couple cross-country races and I really liked the downhill portions – the rest is pretty painful!
That was about the time when enduro was starting to get popular and so one of my friends suggested I should try an enduro race. Enduro is basically a combination of cross-country and downhill, but you are only timed on the downhill portions. There’s multiple downhill portions that you are timed on and you’re responsible to pedal to the top of each stage.
So you don’t want a super heavy bike that will just smash through everything because it’s gonna be really hard to pedal that back up the hill. But you also don’t want a really light fast bike that’s not gonna be very stable through this downhill section. So it’s kind of that game with enduro, you have to find the right setup for the race that you’re racing.
How did you become a professional enduro mountain biker?
So I just started racing enduro races and I did pretty much one race and then the next race day I went pro. You don’t have to get like a pro card or anything like that. You just decide you want to race in the professional category you just sign up in the professional category.
So I did my first race and I won in the open category and then after that I just started racing as a professional enduro mountain biker. I won the California Enduro Series three times the Golden Tour twice and the North American Enduro Series.
What do you put your success down to?
I think what’s helped me be successful in so many different sports is just the upbringing that I had with my family. We were very active and I did a lot of different sports when I was young.
So instead of focusing just on being a soccer star, my parents put me in soccer but also gymnastics and water skiing. They put me in basketball, the volleyball league, swimming so I just was exposed to a lot of different things.
I think it just helps me overall as an athlete to pick up new sports and also excel. In mountain biking what led me to go all-in on the sport and leave my pharmaceutical job was really just my passion for mountain biking and traveling.
What sacrifices did you make to get to where you are?
It was really hard with my job to take the time necessary to go to new races. So I was kind of confined to the California Enduro Series because I only had I could take maybe a Thursday and Friday off to go to the race as that was all the holidays time I had. So I had I couldn’t fly to Vermont to race or fly to Europe and compete there because I just didn’t have two to three weeks of vacation to take as that’s all I have in the year.
I was pretty fortunate to have saved a lot of money throughout working the pharmaceutical sales job. Plus I was also at a point where I was making income from the mountain biking. So I looked at it as this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as I didn’t have a mortgage or kids.
Plus I really love the sport so I might as well just go for it I can always go back to working. I really think my progress have been really incremental and so I have been fortunate that it’s always just been progressing. You know every now and then I’ll have like a bad race but for the most part I’m pretty consistent and I just keep getting better.
What motivates you?
I think that motivates me you know, I go to a race and I see these girls that maybe I didn’t think that I could compete with and all of a sudden I’m beating them or I’m getting times that are really close to them. That’s really encouraging.
Just like the race I had in Colombia. I didn’t really know where I would mix up with the top girls in the world, and just to see that my times weren’t very far off from the top ten and I even got a trophy or I got a eighth place I was like wow I can do this.
That motivates me and gets me fired up and puts me back in it. One thing my friends always joke around with me is they’re always like what’s next what are you gonna do next? Because I always seem to do a sport for a while get really good have some accomplishments and then I move on to another one.
But I really think mountain biking something that’s gonna stick. You can do it so many different places in the world and I love travelling. So I think that’s amazing!
How would you like to be remembered?
As far as my competitive side of mountain biking, I hope what people remember me by is that I got into it late and was able to be really successful. And just had a lot of fun with it!
I think a lot of times people think oh like I didn’t do a sport as a kid like so I can’t be good at it. And you know I started mountain biking when I was 23. So I think just knowing that you can start a sport at any age and excel in it and take it wherever you want to take it.
We hope you enjoyed this interview with a professional enduro mountain biker. You can watch the original interview with Amy Morrison here.